City Voices was founded on the premise that the study of music makes a positive difference in the lives of young people in ways that can help them socially, emotionally, and even academically. Significantly, it gives them a unique opportunity to learn about their own and other’s cultures and the society in which they live, as well as helping them develop sophisticated skills and an empowering aesthetic awareness that generates self-esteem and empathy. Research proves that these gains cross boundaries, providing the same advantages to all students, regardless of their ethnic or socioeconomic backgrounds. Students who develop their musical skill to a high degree have many advantages, including advanced performance opportunity and potential college scholarships.
Unfortunately, it has become more and more difficult for some children to gain the same access as others, especially in our urban areas. All of these benefits are often effectively limited to those students whose families can afford private lessons. In order to bridge this gap, our mission is to improve access for all students by providing free voice lessons and more intensive music education instruction for those students who want to sing, but may not have the resources to study privately. It is our belief that when students have the tools, they will gain access, have more opportunities, and will participate more fully in musical offerings around them.
Since our founding in 2013, our students have proved that this is true. We have served over 175 students from 18 different area schools, including all 5 Des Moines public high schools, and many have achieved great things: we have had a student make the prestigious Iowa All-State Chorus for four consecutive years, and our students have earned nearly 15 leads in school musicals, as well as at the Des Moines Playhouse and Young Artist’s Theater. One of our students won the coveted “Triple Threat” award, given by the Iowa High School Music Theater Awards, and seventeen have gone on to study music-related fields at seventeen different colleges and universities, including the prestigious Berklee College of Music, as well as state universities the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa, with over $175,000 in scholarships. Many more have found greater confidence and opportunity within their own school ensembles, or have even participated in community musical events. Two are completing their internships in Music Therapy and will be eligible to become registered Music Therapists. One graduate even found success as a founding member and performer of a touring punk rock band! We have also employed 25 talented musicians, most from Iowa, who are serving as mentors to the next generation of music makers!
We are fully supportive of the Des Moines Public Schools music program, and encourage City Voices students to be fully contributing members of their home school choirs or to take advantage of other school and community vocal music opportunities.